Please select your home edition
Edition
Clipper Ventures
JOIN THE RACE JOIN THE 2019-20 RACE MAGAZINE DOWNLOAD THE OFFICIAL SOUVENIR RACE MAGAZINE Check out the latest photo galleries from The Clipper Race
UNICEF ABOUT UNICEF

From the Atlantic Ocean to United Nations: Lebalang's remarkable success story

by Julia Fry 13 Mar 09:30 PDT
Lebalang, pictured third from right © Clipper Ventures

We often tell stories of the positive impact that the Clipper Race has on the lives of Race Crew, and there are not many as inspiring as that of Lebalang Molobele.

When Lebalang, pictured third from right in the main banner image, was selected from over two hundred applicants to become part of an eight-person South African tag team who sailed on board the Invest Africa team in the Clipper 2013-14 Race, the realities of the challenge soon began to sink in for the then 22-year-old. Not only had she never left South Africa, set foot on a boat, or even seen the ocean before, but she was also scared of water.

However, fear was no barrier to Lebalang and the following year, she had successfully raced across the Atlantic Ocean and was left feeling empowered to channel her experiences in a life-changing way. Six years later, with a lot of hard work and perseverance, Lebalang has expressed gratitude to her Clipper Race mentor after securing a dream job at the World Health Organisation (WHO), a specialist agency of the United Nations.

Writing in a letter to Rainbow Foundation founder Dirk van Daele and Clipper Race CEO William Ward, Lebalang shared: "It is often difficult to come up with words for the transition that happened in my life after participating in the Clipper Race, but I am going to attempt it in this note as I am full of gratitude and feel the need to share my experience.

"An amazing gradual transformation took place after the race, from understanding what it means to be human and the basic concept of sharing. These two fundamentally for me are everything as it takes a courageous person to share their space, emotions, most importantly the ability to develop humility while doing this.

"Education teaches you the rules, experience teaches you the exceptions...I therefore expect only the best from me because my experiences are unique.

"I always had a dream to become a change agent because society needs people who are willing to do extraordinary things in order to achieve remarkable impact...that is real impact.

"As I write to you today I work for the United Nations, which has been a dream and aspiration of mine for years ever since I was young. The journey has not been easy, I got pregnant and paused my studies and there were moments I wanted to give up but the resilience in me refused. Somehow I link my resilience and determination to what the Clipper Race afforded me which is a rare breed of life skills which equip an individual, young or older, to conquer and unleash their champion within."

She concludes: "I am grateful and humbled by the experience even years later, so to Dirk and all those who made my experiences possible, I am just eternally profound and thankful."

Before the Clipper Race, Lebalang was struggling to find a job whilst living in Soweto, the township brought to national attention by the violent protests in 1976. As part of the selection process to do the race Lebalang was asked which leg she was most interested in doing. She answered: "The leg which arrives in Paris." When David Cusworth, Crew Recrutiment Director, clarified that the race wouldn't be stopping in Paris, Lebalang responded: "I know, but I look where I am now and I have told myself that one day I will get out of this place and I will see the Eiffel Tower."

Lebalang was assigned to do the final leg of the Clipper Race and during the stopover in Den Helder, Holland, she did go to Paris, and whilst visiting Place de Sorbonne, a faculty of the University de Paris which specialises in Humanities, Lebalang commented that she would not stop until she was working for the United Nations."

After taking part in the Clipper Race, Lebalang re-enrolled at University of South Africa for her LLB Law degree, which she passed with distinction, and also became the Head Representative for future Rainbow Foundation participants. Six years on, she has managed to fulfil her dream as she was recently hired as a Programme Assistant at the United Nation's World Health Organisation, South Africa.

The Rainbow Foundation was initiated by Dirk van Daele who had participated in the Clipper Race himself in 2009-10 and saw a similar project make a profound difference for young people from deprived inner-city areas in Europe. For Dirk, the idea to take young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa and provide them with the opportunity to experience of the Clipper Race made sense. By learning to sail and becoming a trusted member of a team, they could build up their confidence and leadership abilities, and take these skills home to inspire their communities and hopefully pursue education and employment.

Dirk later developed two races under the Rainbow Foundation project name, into a wider concept named Dare To Lead. Sailing under the flag of teamwork, determination and leadership, Dare To Lead became a Team Partner in the last Clipper Race, aiming to inspire its diverse crew of racers. It sought to inspire its crew members to apply the life skills learnt during this ocean adventure to become catalysts for positive change in their personal lives, professional careers and social communities.

Commenting on Lebalang's journey, Dirk says: "I have felt enormous pride in seeing Lebalang achieve her dreams over the years. From the moment we first met in 2013, when she applied to do the Clipper Race, it was clear that Lebalang not only had a drive to succeed herself, but that she always wanted to help others to do the same too.

"Lebalang's journey has not been straight forward at times, but she is an inspiring example of someone who believed in her own potential, worked hard and never give up on her dreams. On behalf of all the Rainbow Foundation and Dare To Lead organisation, we wish her the very best in her new role at the United Nations, knowing she will now prove to be a highly inspirational leader to others to pursue a similar pathway in life."

On what drove Lebalang to succeed, she explains: "I have seen my mother take care of other people's children and look after people who suffer from AIDS and her strength and courage humbles me. Women of the African continent have achieved so much oppression but we will continue to fight because we are born with the will to do more than we are expected to achieve.

"The Clipper Race has given me the chance to do something I would never normally get to do. I got off that boat far braver and decided to start something for myself. If the work was there, I aimed to start a business of my own you have to make things happen in life.

"Being part of the Rainbow Foundation Project made me want more for myself and those around me. I'm so proud to be a part of it and am profoundly grateful for all the opportunities I have benefited from as well as the support, words of wisdom and encouragement. What the Clipper Race and the Rainbow Foundation has done for me is something no one can take away, and it all started with me crossing the Atlantic Ocean."

Read more about Dare To Lead here.

Related Articles

Clipper Race confirms host ports for its final leg
Host Port destinations will form the penultimate 'US Coast-to-Coast' leg Firm race route favourites, Seattle, New York and Derry-Londonderry, have been announced as Host Port Partners for the upcoming edition of the global sailing event along with Bermuda which is making its debut appearance on the circuit Posted on 10 Jul
Clipper Race partners with WTC Logistics & ChartCo
Making their debut as Logistics Partner with a team entry too WTC Logistics, which has offices across the UK, USA and China, is a forward-thinking Import and Export Consolidator and Full-Load Carrier, who operates via air, sea and road. Posted on 29 Jun
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston reveals Clipper crews
Almost 700 adventurers will be taking part in the 2019-20 Race Four hundred crew members pose on the steps of Portsmouth Guildhall, with sailing legend and Clipper Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, after discovering their Skippers and which teams they will be sailing around the world with. Posted on 13 May
Cape Town to host Global Sailing Race
Also Seattle revealed as team entry A trio of announcements have been made by the Clipper Race today regarding its upcoming 2019-20 edition including a new Host Port Partner, as well as a team entry and its Skipper. Posted on 11 May
18 candidates to represent Sanya in Clipper Race
Following a gruelling selection process in China Following a gruelling selection process, 16 candidates including; a graphic designer, CEO, bilingual event host, snowboard instructor student and engineer; two reserves, plus one media crew member, were chosen to form the tag team of ambassadors. Posted on 27 Apr
Falmouth puts on spectacular display for Sir Robin
Recreating the historic moment he returned home 50 years ago A truly impressive flotilla of vessels, including Royal Navy warship HMS Mersey, and over one hundred supporting yachts of all shapes and sizes, joined Sir Robin, and Suhaili in Falmouth Harbour to recreate the historic moment he returned home. Posted on 22 Apr
Praxes to provide medical support for Clipper Race
Clipper Race is continuing its partnership with Praxes Medical Group Praxes will play a crucial behind-the-scenes role as Global Medical Support Partner to the Clipper 2019-20 Race setting sail this summer. Drawing on 22 years of experience in providing bespoke medical support and immediate access to its team of doctors. Posted on 16 Apr
Clipper Race circumnavigators return to paradise
Two Brits competing in the Round Hainan Regatta Having enjoyed everything that Sanya had to offer during the Clipper Race stopover, Mike was especially looking forward to calling into the tropical resort whilst racing on Wan Ming Tang Bravery Honor Team in the race that start and finishes in Haikou. Posted on 29 Mar
Ambassadors chosen to represent the city of Zhuhai
18 brave adventurers chosen after a tough three day selection process The candidates, who went through a tough three day selection process, hosted by the Zhuhai Jiuzhou Holdings Group and a delegation from the Clipper Race, will become Zhuhai Ambassadors in the upcoming edition. Posted on 16 Mar
MBW newsletters (top)